Towards an Integrated Research Framework in Public Policy-Focused Investigations

Towards an Integrated Research Framework in Public Policy-Focused Investigations

Alireza Aslani (Interdisciplinary Department, Faculty of New Sciences and Technology, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)
DOI: 10.4018/ijamse.2014070101
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Abstract

Today researchers help governments to make rational and evidence informed decisions in their public policies. Thereby, practices and studies of public policies should be guided by high quality investigations especially in healthcare and energy sectors. Due to the importance of public policy-focused research and existing research gaps, this article aims to introduce a new framework with special focus on system identification and conceptualization. The framework seeks to integrate advantages of the action, systematic, quantitative, and qualitative research in an innovative structure.
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2. Conceptual Issues In Public Policy-Focused Research

Policy is a set of ideas, decisions, or plans for actions followed by firms, businesses, governments, political parties, and groups of people (Cambridge dictionary, 2013). Therefore, policymaking is the process of making plans for policy actions and includes identification of different alternatives and choosing best policy based on important factors or attributes of the policy makers. Webb and Wistow’s (1986) introduce three kinds of policy including governance policies, service policies, and practice policies. While governance policy refers to organizational and financial structures, service policies consider to resource allocation and pattern of services. Practice policies also refer to use of resources by practitioners (Webb & Wistow, 1986).

Beside the named categories, the multidisciplinary policy is also defined and referred to the art, study, or practice related to government and sub-administrations actions designed to achieve certain goals. Although multidisciplinary policy is sometimes called public policy, in the widest sense, it is not the sole preserve of government and sub-administrations. Overall, public policy covers all political, managerial, and administrative characters of a policy goal to achieve a strategy (See Figure 1). As an academic discipline, it also consists of many elements such as science, economics, sociology, engineering, and public management.

Figure 1.

Situation of public policy compared to other levels of public decisions

Research show that public policy research is usually done for four main reasons: recognizing problems and identifying issues (e.g., identify specific issues or problems, influence policy-making process), understanding key issues (e.g., identify key policy issues, identify potential solutions), supporting a selected plan of action (e.g., implement strategies, gather evidence to support proposed solutions), and evaluating and monitoring progress (e.g., monitor and evaluate impacts, answer questions, identify areas for improvement, refine solutions) (Dukeshire & Thurlow, 2002).

Despite importance of public policy in decision-making, studies show that many policy makers complain about insufficient dialogue between themselves and researchers. The consequence is that both sides do not know what they want in reality (Fischer et al., 2006). In other words, it is often seen that policy research cannot address the questions that policy makers want to answer or failed. Therefore, the relation between research and policy is a complex process and is not rational and linear (Hunter, 2009). On the other hand, the quality of policy research is an issue that policy makers are increasingly paying attention to adhere a certain minimum standards (Dunn, 2003). As poor quality research has short or long time effects on science development, it is important for public policy researchers to ensure about the quality of their research.

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